SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
19th August 2004.
Kagame woos new investors

Speech by President Paul Kagame at the opening of the Second Rwanda Investment Conference in Kigali, May 13, 2004

This is an opportunity to outline to you the investment opportunities that Rwanda can offer. What I want to share with you today is a mood of optimism in our country, and, I trust, a sense of confidence.

INVESTMENT: President Paul Kagame opens the new, magnificent Intercontinental Hotel in Kigali.

 

We all know that industry and commerce can only flourish in a predictable and conducive environment.

We all know that investments are attracted by the promise of growth. How we measure up in meeting these expectations defines the wellspring of our optimism and confidence in the future. Over the last decade, we have worked hard to ensure progress on many fronts.

For example, we have endeavoured to build democratic institutions and to remove injustices and inequities that previously existed in Rwanda. Similarly, economic growth has replaced decline and stagnation, previously associated with our country.

As a result, Rwanda is now one of those countries on the continent of Africa making significant economic progress, judging from our recent performance in that area.

Investments and private sector development are no longer issues we take for granted. We recognise them as the real engines of growth and we are pursuing their realisation with determination and focus.

That is why we have put in place the necessary legislative and institutional mechanisms to promote investments into our economy.

Today, our public and private sectors are working together in a genuine partnership as we collectively endeavour to define our country’s economic development agenda.

As a result, we are making our country a predictable and attractive investment location. This is particularly evident in a number of areas:

Transparency and accountability, important for sound economic activity, have replaced the monopoly of opportunity and free-wheel dealing, which characterised our country before 1994.

You will also notice that good governance and low levels of corruption are taking root. Rwandan people are no longer the object of exploitation and abuse by those in power.

We know that they are the most important resource we have. Therefore, the protection of their rights has become the essence of our leadership.

We are encouraging the Rwandan people, not only to work hard, but also to work smart. In view of that, we are investing in the education of our young so that they may become the instruments of our country’s socio-economic development.

The security of investments as well as property rights, are enshrined in our laws and international protocols to which we are a signatory.

Our commitment to safeguarding these rights is firm. Equally firm is our belief in safeguarding individual security. It should not be surprising, therefore, that crime levels are low in our land. Our Capital, Kigali, is just as safe as anywhere else you can think of.

We continue to pursue the objectives of securing regional peace and stability, in collaboration with other stakeholders.
Significant progress has been made on this score and we intend to continue building on present gains.

However, we do not dwell on the gains of the moment, lest we lose sight of the future. Indeed, and in line with this imperative, my Government has a vision of the future in the form of Vision 2020.

This vision rests on six pillars, namely:

1. The reconstruction of the nation and its social capital;
2. The development of a credible and efficient state governed by the rule of law;
3. Human resource development in line with our objective of turning Rwanda into a prosperous knowledge-based economy;
4. Development of basic infrastructure, including urban planning;
5. Development of entrepreneurship and the private sector, and
6. Modernisation of agriculture and animal husbandry.
The cross-cutting domains of Vision 2020 include issues of gender equality; natural resources and environmental protection; science and technology as well as regional and international integration.
Achievement of our long-term vision, however, requires urgent action in the short to medium-term.
In the medium-term, several things must happen, and they include the following:

  • Ensure secure macro-economic stability;
  • Maintain peace and stability;
  • Expand economic activity through foreign direct investments, especially in value addition of economic activities;
  • Remove current obstacles and constraints to traditional exports by increasing enterprise access to finance; improving commercial infrastructure and investing in productivity enhancement programmes;
  • q Invest in the expansion and diversification of our export base to tap the potential of new products like horticulture, pyrethrum, handicrafts and leather products;
  • Establish a free trade and export-processing zone so as to quickly expand export activity ahead of the development of a genuinely competitive industrial capacity, which has a much longer lead-time;
  • Promote greater flow of up-market tourists into Rwanda as an easier source of foreign exchange, and
  • Continue to build strong and strategic industry partnerships with developed economies.

We are convinced about the direction we are taking, and what needs to be done.

Most importantly, we understand that we have to be creative and innovative as we go along, so as to meet the challenges of the global trading conditions. The role of private enterprise and capital is central in this journey.

Rwanda is a strong advocate of the NEPAD initiative, whose aim is greater ownership of our future as a continent, and broader partnership.

This decade, a new impetus for change, economic change, driven by private enterprise and capital, supported by good political choices, is visible across our continent. This is clearly the case in Rwanda.

I am sure that organisers of this conference will sketch for you details of the Rwandan investment proposition.
I encourage you to consider these carefully and make the right choices.

For those of you who find an investment opportunity they wish to pursue, you can count on my Government for full support.
Our wish is that your efforts translate into real wealth for your benefit and that of our country...


QUICK FACTS

  • President: Paul Kagame
  • Prime Minister: Bernard Makuza
  • Foreign Minister: Charles Murigande
  • Finance Minister: Dr Donald Kaberuka
  • Area: 26,334 sq km
  • Population: 8.4 million (UN, 2003)
  • Capital: Kigali
  • Major languages: Kinyarwanda (official), French (official), English (official), Swahili.
  • Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 39 years (men), 40 years (women).
  • Monetary unit:
    1 USD = 563 francs
  • Main exports: Coffee, tea, hides, tin ore
  • GNI per capita: US $230 (World Bank, 2002)
  • Internet domain: .rw
  • International dialling code: +250
  • Calling from Uganda: +0037

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